Marcotte, 27, who was living in New York, was murdered while jogging near Princeton, Massachusetts last August, where she was visiting her family.
On February 23, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said authorities now have DNA evidence and were able to develop a profile “of a person of interest in the case.”
Early described the person of interest as “a Hispanic man with an athletic build and average height. He had a shaved head or short hair and is about 30 years old.” ABC 7 reported that “the DNA profile shows the person of interest is an athletic, light-skinned male and about 30 years old. He may be of Hispanic or Latino origin.”
It’s the first time that authorities have released a suspect description in the death of the young woman, which horrified the region.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Also Released a Vague Description of the Man’s Car
According to WCVB, “the man is believed to have been the person driving a dark-colored SUV that was seen around the time Marcotte was killed.”
In addition to having DNA, police have witnesses who reported seeing such a vehicle parked in the area around the time Marcotte was slain, reported ABC 7 New York.
Police believe she was killed between 1 and 4 p.m. on August 7, 2016.
2. Marcotte’s Body Bore Evidence of Burning
The crime was horrific.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that burns were found on Marcotte’s body on her head and feet, but authorities were not saying what they think caused them.
The young woman had set out for a jog at about 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon in an area that has almost no violent crime. The possible random nature of Marcotte’s death terrified people in the local community where she died. She was in the area visiting her mother. She was found naked and burned in a wooded area, and police are investigating whether she was raped before she was killed, Fox 25 News reported at the time of the crime.
On Twitter, Marcotte posted business-related activities, and she reserved Instagram for photos of trips to the beach and out with friends and family. Marcotte was an account executive for Google in New York City. MassLive says her family called police when she didn’t return, and a police K-9 unit found her murdered body the night of Sunday, August 7, 2016.
Boston area television called Marcotte’s murder “gruesome,” and said that Princeton residents were on edge as a result of it. “For this to happen we are all really shocked and disturbed and feel awful for the woman’s family,” one resident said to WCVB. The TV station said Marcotte’s body was found seven hours after she went for the jog.
3. Police Believe the Suspect Might Have Had Scratches
Another thing people should look out for: At the time of the August murder, authorities believe the suspect might have had scratches on his body because Marcotte fought back.
“The person would possibly have had scratches on his face, neck, arms, hands, and upper body around the time of the murder,” The Boston Globe reported, quoting authorities.
Authorities said they recovered DNA they believe is from “our person of interest.” A name was not released however, as authorities are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man.
The suspect might also have scrapes and bruises, authorities have said.
4. Marcotte Was Remembered as Smart, Creative & Friendly
Marcotte was remembered as a vivacious young businesswoman who was well liked.
Vistaprint, where Marcotte one worked, said in a statement, “We are shocked and heartbroken to hear the news about Vanessa. She was always incredibly friendly and positive, and her smart, creative and innovative approach to work made a huge impact here at Vistaprint. She truly cared about those around her and always made an effort to forge strong relationships. Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.”
Marcotte was originally from Leominster, Massachusetts, which is about 20 minutes from Princeton.
She attended the Bancroft School, a private prep school in Worcester. Marcotte then graduated with honors from Boston University in 2011 with a degree in communications.
“I am a Public Relations major with an extreme interest in all things Internet-savvy. To get a little technical, I am passionate about business strategies like SEO, Analytics and Inbound Marketing (just to name a few) and hope to develop these skills further and make them a focus in my future career,” she wrote on Cheap Grapes, a blog about wine she started while still a college student.
5. DNA Also Cracked the Case of Another Murdered Jogger
Around the same time that Marcotte was killed, another jogger from New York, Karina Vetrano, was slain in Queens.
There is no evidence the two cases are related, although both women were described as vibrant personalities. The Vetrano case seemingly was dormant for months, but then police in New York revealed they had identified her killer. Chanel Lewis, a man who lived in the area, was identified through DNA testing and accused of being Karina’s killer in criminal charges.